COLUMBUS- The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio urged Columbus City Council members to pass legislation that would add gender identity to the city's non-discrimination policy. By broadening the policy, no person can be denied employment, housing or equal access to government facilities based on their gender identity.

ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link said, "It is patently unfair for any person to be denied a job, housing or access to public resources simply because of who they are. Elected officials must take a stand and proclaim that this type of discrimination will no be tolerated in Columbus."

"This move will also benefit the city greatly. By expanding our rights, leaders our showing we are a tolerant, progressive community who cares about fundamental rights like equality. As businesses with diverse employees and clients look at areas to invest, this is an important factor that will keep Columbus competitive with other metropolitan areas."

Along with Columbus's recent move to include gender identity into its non-discrimination laws, legislators in the Ohio General Assembly are considering bi-partisan legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equal Housing and Employment Act (EHEA) would apply throughout the state, including municipalities that have already adopted similar measures in their local ordinances.

"While it is vitally important that Columbus and other cities stand up for basic fairness, we cannot forget about the many Ohioans who are not fortunate enough to live in a city with these protections. We must press our legislators to act now on the EHEA, which would extend greater equality to all people in our state," added Link.

By prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, Columbus joins other Ohio cities like Cincinnati, Toledo and Dayton in protecting all citizens from unfair bias.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan ACLU of Ohio is based in Cleveland with community and campus groups throughout the state. There are 30,000 ACLU members and supporters in Ohio and more than 500,000 nationwide.